Fernando Rodney Wrestles Alligator that got Chubs' Hand; Hopes to Find Happy Place

Posted by Bob Biscigliano in , ,

As my excitement of the initial reporting of pitchers and catchers to camp has died down, I want to talk about the little necklace that Fernando Rodney was wearing when he reported. No it was not a Phiten, or four Phitens wrapped around one another for that matter: It was an alligator tooth.

According to Rodney he wrestled an alligator for it. No one really knows if they should believe him. Well, you know what, I believe him. And this is the story I've heard from a number of sources.

Apparently, this offseason Chubs was training Rodney to find his old self. He's seen his work in previous years and what kind of success he had. What really did it for him was when he saw Rodney at a local Lakeland grocery store this summer trying to throw oranges into small pails. Yeah, he was throwing 95+ MPH, but it doesn't matter if the oranges are flying over the pails and hitting old women in the head near the eggs section.

When Rodney was done, someone in a pastelle polo approached him and told him the Tigers were going to be in Spring Training here in a few weeks and that he should try out. Rodney looked at him, as much as he could through half closed eyes, and said, "Yeah I'll see you there, PLFFFF." That was enough to spark a lightbulb for Chubs--"He's going to try out and by golly he's going to win the closer's role."

The next day, Chubs approached Rodney as he was taking balls off the chest at the nearby batting cage. He was taking each pitch square off the heart, with ease, exclaiming "52 days until Opening Day."

Chubs had a look of terror and yelled out, "What the hell is wrong with you?" as he unplugged the machine.

Rodney: "What!?"

Chubs said, "I'm going to teach you how to throw strikes...for free."

Rodney was not interested, "no!"

Chubs wanted to gloat a little, "you have no idea who I am do you?"

Rodney replied, "no I don't,"clearly not interested. Chubs went on about how he won some golf tournaments and that they wouldn't let him play in the Pro Tour. Rodney was thinking, how does this relate to baseball, I want some Chipotle, and who the hell is this random dude, but he responded anyway. "Ohh I'm sorry because you're black and this was pre-Tiger Woods era?"

Chubs was not amused, "Haillll no. Damn alligator bit my hand off." He pulls his hand-less arm out from behind his back.

Rodney's eyes opened further than they ever have before, "Oh my GAWD!" Chubs said it was okay because he had the gator's eyeball. Gross.

Long story short, Chubs persisted and Rodney finally gave in because he figured doing well for the Tigers would get him a better contract eventually and some money to win Grandma's house back.

Chubs was a great teacher, telling Rodney to ease the tension and that it was all in the hips, baby. Rodney really wanted Chubs to ease the tension on someone else, but Chubs was actually helping him. Rodney was starting to throw strikes again and it looked as if the ol' 2006 Rodney may be back in 2009.

Anyway, the story with the alligator tooth is this. One day, Rodney was throwing a bullpen to one of Chubs' old caddies, as Chubs looked on. Late in the session, Rodney was tiring and threw one way over the unathletic caddy's head that trickled to the edge of a nearby pond. When Rodney went to retrieve the ball, he found it resting between the chompers of a cheesing alligator, tempting him to grab it. Sure enough he tried to snatch it from the gator's mouth, but the bastard bit down, nearly taking off Rodney's arm. Rodney's Tiger-like reflexes allowed him to remove his hand just in time before it was bitten off. He took another look at the gator and realized his eyeball was missing. That was the damn alligator that got Chubs' hand. The gator turned around, laughing, and started to crawl back into the pond. Not on Rodney's watch. He attacked the alligator and wrestled it for the baseball, gave him the deathly forearm shiver at the end of the fight, and curtains for that gator. Victory for Fernando!

Just as Rodney was about to report for camp, he went to Chubs' place on the third floor of some apartment complex to thank him for all the help he had so graciously provided. Chubs said it was no problem and gave him a few reminders for Spring Training. Before it was all said and done, Rodney told Chubs he had a present for him.

"You know that gator that got your hand?" Rodney said with an inquisitive look. "Well, I got his head." Rodney undraped the box that revealed the eye-less gator's head. Naturally, Chubs screamed, fell out the window, and died. Former Tiger Jason Grilli, who happened to be on ground level at the time, looked up at Rodney and shook his head.

So the story with the tooth is, Rodney wanted to play for Chubs this Spring, so he took one of the gator's teeth and put it on a necklace to wear during Spring Training.

Hopefully, it helps Rodney find his happy place this spring.



UPDATE: This article was linked to SI.com's Hot Click's daily piece. Check it out here under "The Whole Tooth?".

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